From the beginning, scamera vendors and officials have attempted to quell concerns of legitimacy by stating that an officer will review each and every citation. The problem is, no one ever asked exactly what they’d be reviewing. We should have known better…
In an Oct 2009 court ruling from the Maricopa County Superior Court, a judge has ruled that a photo traffic complaint is not properly issued if an officer merely matches that the sex of the person in the photo matches the sex of the vehicle registrant.
A.R.S. § 28-1561 states that traffic complaints need to contain a certification “by the issuing officer in substance as follows: ‘I hereby certify that I have reasonable grounds to believe and do believe that the person named herein committed the offense or civil violation described herein contrary to law.’” However, an aide from the Tempe police department testified that they only match sex, and do not look at physical descriptions.
Therefore, the court concluded that the traffic complaint was improperly issued because the officer did NOT have reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the offense. That doesn’t seem to have had any effect on procedures, as the police still issue tickets even with obvious race and appearance mismatches. They get away with it because judges don’t seem to want to enforce section B of the statutes which states:
B. A false certification under the provisions of subsection A is perjury.
The intent of the perjury provision is to help ensure that police do not abuse their power by issuing false citations. The reality is that this is what the photo enforcement programs have been about since their inception. They issue known false citations by the hundreds and thousands, as evidenced by court statistics. Most people are happy when their case is dismissed because they don’t resemble the person in the photo; however, anyone receiving a photo ticket where the officer clearly made a false certification needs to take measures to see that the responsible officer be charged with perjury as is appropriate under this statute. Only enforcement of the perjury provision under this statute will have any effect on curbing this attack on the innocent. Of course, the end of all photo enforcement in Arizona in November will achieve that as also.